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Divorce And Child Support: How Much Should Be Paid?

A major portion of your divorce decree will deal with child support issues if you and your divorcing spouse are the parents of a minor child. Working out some issues in advance, such as property and debt division and child custody, can save you time and money. Almost any aspect of divorce that can be agreed upon out of court will be advantageous in many ways, with the exception of child support amounts. Read on to learn more about the guidelines and special rules that family court judges use to determine child support.

Income-Based Calculations

In an effort to focus on the best interest of the child, the federal government has handed down income-based guidelines for determining child support payment amounts. These calculations seek to standardize the support payment amounts to assist family court judges and other interested parties. Since each state has a different median income, the support payment amounts vary depending on residence.

It must be noted that these calculators provide only rough estimates. Off-setting factors that should be taken into account include types of income, special expenses, percentage of custody awarded and the types of income reported. Major factors include:

*Income: The calculation of income varies by state, but will be either gross or net. The highest earner of the two parents usually end up paying a larger percentage of support.

*Standing Orders: For parents with current child support obligations for another child, the support amount may be deducted from the parent's income or portion of support. It's important to note that this applies only to cases where the support is court-ordered (not voluntary) and the support payments must be up to date.

*Childcare Expenses: The parent who pays for daycare or babysitting may deduct that amount from the income used in the support calculation.

*Healthcare: Insurance premiums may be also be deducted by the parent responsible for paying. It should be noted that the issue of healthcare coverage is normally a separate portion of the divorce agreement, with a specific provision naming the parent who agrees to provide the coverage.

*Special Circumstances: Other miscellaneous expenses considered in the child support calculation include providing for special needs children, who may require more educational and medical considerations than normal, and travel expenses for children who need to travel to comply with custody arrangements and/or visitation.

Family courts are charged with taking into consideration the "best interests of the child" at all times, so any issues dealing with minor children remain on separate orders and always open. The nature of issues concerning child support, visitation and custody demand flexibility and are therefore an ever-changing responsibility for not only parents, but to family courts. Consult with your divorce attorney like one from Kalamarides & Lambert for more information about how child support is calculated in your state.